Chapter 7 – Ye Jing’s Thoughts
**Originally translated by Incarneous, with edits
The speaker was speaking without any ulterior motives, yet the listener somehow detected a hidden motive.
Yan Zhaoge had but spoken casually, but Ye Jing, who had just returned to his home town in glory, no longer held the complicated feeling from before.
Everyone else was in a good mood. Despite being overshadowed by Yan Zhaoge, having left Broad Creed Mountain and arrived in the Eastern Tang Kingdom of the East Heaven Region, they suddenly remembered that they too could also be considered gifted geniuses.
As disciples of one of the Sacred Grounds, Broad Creed Mountain, they had originally been tested and chosen from amongst the very best of those from large powers like the Eastern Tang Kingdom. With that, how could any one of them be weak?
It was just that every time one of them started feeling the slightest bit conceited, a single glance forward to that leisurely proceeding blue-robed back would immediately eliminate their fickle thoughts.
When their hands came into contact with their artifacts, thoughts of trying harder and striving higher would occupy their mind.
In the Eastern Tang Kingdom, of those with a cultivation comparable to theirs, only the very best elites of the Royal Palace Defense Army could possess not even artifacts, but just demi-artifacts…
Of course, they could not be compared to Yan Zhaoge at all.
Even the people they interacted with were on a completely different level.
The person Yan Zhaoge would visit first was the King of Eastern Tang Kingdom who needed no introduction. A powerful and influential figure within the area, he was the Eastern Tang Kingdom’s number one martial practitioner, the ruler of one of the East Heaven Region’s, under Broad Creed Mountain, three great powers, the Eastern Tang Kingdom.
And the Eastern Tang Kingdom’s Principal Elder was Broad Creed Mountain’s representative in the Eastern Tang Kingdom. An extremely important figure within the kingdom, his position was even higher than that of the Elder Cui who had forced Yan Zhaoge into an awkward position at the sect.
Even though there was a difference between internal and external positions, cultivation levels, and degree of authority, under clan regulations, elders of the Assignment Hall like Elder Cui served to oversee important cities or rich lands or the extraction and use of important resources when they were placed in a position outside of the clan in places like the Eastern Tang Kingdom. Known as Acting Elders, their duty was to protect the clan’s interests.
On the other hand, Principal Elders served to oversee dynasties as well as large clans or familial powers. They watched over those forces and served to ensure Broad Creed Mountain’s influence and income in those places. As Principal Elders, they were also responsible for dealing with any unexpected situations that might arise.
After entering the city and choosing a meeting point, Yan Zhaoge left for the palace alone. Ye Jing and the others separated and acted on their own in the capital.
Ye Jing did not have any interest in revisiting his old haunts. He walked along the river that flowed through the city until he reached a bridge. Stepping onto the bridge, he stood by himself as he looked down at the fast flowing water, calmly and wordlessly.
Sikong Qing appeared soundlessly behind him. Ye Jing detected her arrival, saying unconcernedly, “Senior apprentice-sister.”
“Are you thinking about just now?” asked Sikong Qing as she slightly tilted her head.
Ye Jing shook his head, “At the time, I felt that he was purposefully showing off, but after giving it some thought, it seemed unlikely.”
Sikong Qing said, “Then you are thinking about the artifacts senior apprentice-brother Yan granted to everyone?”
Back at the clan, of the sixteen people in the expedition, only Ye Jing had not chosen one of Yan Zhaoge’s artifacts. The other fifteen people, Sikong Qing included, had each chosen an artifact.
“Senior apprentice-brother Yan might be showing off, but he does have the qualification,” said Sikong Qing as she moved to stand by Ye Jing’s side, “Low-grade artifacts are inanimate constructs; they cannot take sides. Our future achievements will not be decided upon by a single low-grade artifact. Senior apprentice-brother Yan treated everyone equally and gave an artifact to each person. Thus, I saw no reason to decline his artifact. He will not miss it because in the future, he will have even better things.”
Ye Jing nodded. Even though Sikong Qing had picked out an artifact just like everyone else, she had not placed much weight on this act due to her confidence in her future achievements.
“You choosing not to accept an artifact may have shown your determination to walk your own path,” said Sikong Qing, “But it could also have been interpreted as you having refused senior apprentice-brother Yan’s kindness; the fact that you refused showing that you are unable to differentiate good from bad. However, I feel like senior apprentice-brother Yan was not specifically expressing any intentions towards you. There is not much difference between the way he looks at us and the way he looks at you.”
Her words unexpectedly caused Ye Jing to tighten his fists. That figure from yesteryear who had taken away his childhood sweetheart and completely ignored him seemed to once again appear before his eyes.
“I don’t know what he thinks, but I will not accept anything from him,” Ye Jing said. His words gradually grew more tranquil as his eyes were filled with a vigor stemming from confidence, “To the current me, while a low-grade artifact is indeed something very good, ultimately, working on my cultivation is still the most important.”
Sikong Qing said, “That is also true. So long as your mind is clear and your heart unclouded, your cultivation will be more successful. A clouded heart will cause your cultivation to easily suffer. It is worthwhile to simply let yourself go and act purely guided by your feelings.”
Ye Jing clenched his fist and said, “That Yan Zhaoge is currently stronger than me is a fact. Not only is his cultivation higher than mine, there’s also his forging of artifacts with the Internal Crystal Furnace. Still I will not always lose to him. I will definitely surpass him.”
“A mere Martial Scholar is not much. I will compete with him. Who can become a Martial Grandmaster first? And after that, who can transcend mortality and ascend into the realm of Martial Saint first!”
In this world, martial cultivation was divided into realms. Starting with the Body Refinement realm, there were three major stages, first the body-tempering stage, next the meridian-connecting stage, then finally the qi-directing stage. Each of these stages was divided into three phases; early, mid and late.
So far, there were nine levels in total, and after those levels was the tenth level, which was also the final, peak stage of the Body Refinement realm. Thus, there were 10 levels in the Body Refinement realm.
Above the peak stage existed a large bottleneck. If a Martial Artist was able to break through, they would have successfully stepped into the realm of a Martial Scholar.
While it might not be apparent in Sacred Grounds like Broad Creed Mountain, in reality, someone who could become a Martial Scholar already had the qualifications to establish their own minor force.
The leaders of many tiny forces also happened to be in the Martial Scholar realm.
The Martial Scholar realm was divided into three major stages. They were: the inner aura stage, the outer aura stage, and finally the Xiantian level. Each major stage was divided into three phases: early, mid and late. In addition, there was a final stage at the end, the Heavenly Connection stage.The Martial Scholar realm consisted of these ten levels.
And above the Heavenly Connection stage, there was an enormous gulf. People who managed to cross this gulf would become Martial Grandmasters.
Once they reached that step, they would already be powerful and influential figures in their local area, famous figures recognized throughout the entire Eight Extremities World.
Martial Grandmasters also had four stages and ten levels. The final stage was called the Transcending Mortality Stage, as a Martial Grandmaster transcended mortality in order to reach sainthood. If a person managed to reach this stage, they would have a slim chance of advancing into the Martial Saint realm, officially becoming a Martial Saint.
In the present world, the number of known Martial Saints could be counted on one’s fingers.
“His Internal Crystal Furnace can forge artifacts and spirit artifacts, but can it forge a Sacred Artifact? To a martial clan, how can any number of spirit artifacts be compared to the significance of possessing a single Martial Saint?”
Ye Jing’s pupils shone with a brilliant light. Even though he had already established his dantian’s qi ocean, he was only at the eighth level of the Body Refinement realm, at the mid qi-directing level, whereas Yan Zhaoge had long since reached the Martial Scholar realm, moreover already having reached the late inner-aura stage.
However, Ye Jing was full of confidence. He believed he could definitely surpass the young man who seemed like his destined adversary.
He had sufficient perseverance and resolute conviction. Furthermore, he had a trump card of his own.
Ye Jing gently let out a long breath, as his fingers twisted the dark red ring he wore on his right hand.
It did not matter that his starting point was low. He only needed to improve quickly. Then, there would definitely be a day when he caught up with and surpassed his target.
Sikong Qing looked at Ye Jing, “Junior apprentice-brother Ye, your potential is extraordinary. Hold on to your lofty ambitions and keep your feet firmly on the ground. If so, there will surely be a time when you transcend mortality and attain sainthood.”
Ye Jing smiled and said, “I am just boasting. Senior apprentice-sister, please don’t make fun of me. Having already reached the peak stage of the Body Refinement realm, you are only one step away from becoming a Martial Scholar. Right now, you are the one most likely to surpass Yan Zhaoge, and also the one most likely to become the next Martial Scholar of Broad Creed Mountain’s young generation.”
Sikong Qing said, “However, this time, I do not think that senior apprentice-brother Yan holds any ill intent. On the contrary, Elder Cui’s words in the Assignment Hall were truly suspicious, as if they were meant to provoke conflict between our two sides. Junior apprentice-brother Ye, you must be careful of any such hidden moves in the future. There are many interpersonal relationships in the clan that are not easily understood. One could very easily be drawn into these dark undercurrents unknowingly.”
Ye Jing nodded, “I understand.”